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Posted April 10, 2013
Wonderful collection of short pieces for those familiar with needing a home away from home…
This CD consists of a series of short piano pieces written by composers that left their homeland, and no doubt felt the pain of not being able to go “home”. The concept is that of a café, where such individuals might gather to feel together in their isolation. As such, the pieces tend to have a certain wistfulness and character that is both pleasing and somehow comforting.
A number of the works on this disc were particularly striking. The first three by Bela Bartok are short Hungarian Folksongs, and they are just delightful. Music of Chopin is, of course, featured given the theme of this recording, and Ms. Downes shows that her Chopin is sensitive and that her skills are up to the task of bringing these works to life. The Mazurka in F-sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 1, is very satisfying. Also very interesting is Prokofiev’s Sonatina Pastorale (Op. 59, No. 3). Stravinsky’s Tango in D minor was a very pleasing musical discovery for me, and Weill’s “Lost in the Stars” is a lovely jazz-feeling work that anyone who has ever sat in a bar while on travel wishing they were home can relate to. And the Korngold Moderato from Sonata No. 2, Op. 2 is amazing. Other works on the disc are from Rachmaninov, Bowles, and Sahl, who’s “Tango from the Exiles’ Café” was the basis for the idea behind this collection.
I was unfamiliar with Ms. Downes prior to acquiring this recording, and I will definitely have to keep an eye out for other works. I enjoyed this very much, and definitely recommend it for those looking for sensitive, introspective feeling works. Strongly recommended.